Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) attended a ministerial conference on Afghanistan in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan after the local parliamentary elections. The meeting also debated how the international community can support Afghanistan’s efforts towards peace and reconciliation. Mikser affirmed that Estonia will continue its support of the country through development cooperation.
The conference’s resounding message was that the peace process must be led first and foremost by Afghanistan, but that this does not mean that Afghanistan is left alone in this process.
Mr Mikser said at the conference that the support of the European Union and the international community continues to be necessary for the stability and further development of Afghanistan.
“But Afghanistan’s initiative and strategic vision for reforms, peace negotiations and neighbourhood relations is equally important,” he said. He added that despite the difficult circumstances, the government of Afghanistan has managed to take steps to fight corruption, strengthen the government sector, and promote education, but there is still a long way to go.
The minister also affirmed that Estonia will continue to support Afghanistan along with the international community. Afghanistan is one of the priority countries of Estonian development cooperation, with Estonia allocating close to a million euros every year through international organisations and bilateral projects. This will continue at least until 2024.
The development cooperation areas Estonia is involved in are education, security, IT capacity building and improving the lives of women and children. One example of such a project is the inclusion of Tallinn University that resulted in three master’s programmes for Kabul University’s IT department. Thanks to the project, Afghan IT students are able to obtain higher education in Afghanistan.
Mr Mikser’s agenda for the day also included meetings with colleagues from Afghanistan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan to discuss bilateral relations. He also met with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and the director-general of the International Organization for Migration, António Vitorino.